eleutheros [el-yoo'-ther-os] -adj. :
free, exempt, unrestrained, not bound by an obligation

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“The Ramifications of Our Salvation”

“The Ramifications of Our Salvation” originally was the title of a series of messages delivered at the author’s first church in Pennsylvania.

Since those days it has become evident that Christians from every imaginable background know Jesus as Savior but have very little knowledge of what happened the moment they were saved.

Truly, God has provided a wonderful salvation, and His people should know more about it!  That is the rationale behind this book.

Suitable for Christian day schools, small group Bible studies, Sunday School classes, pastoral preparation, discipleship, or personal enrichment, “The Ramifications of Our Salvation” is available in either paperback or e-book.

It consists of 35 chapters in 4 sections and is 162 pages long.

The following is a preview of the book:

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name (John 1:12).

Ask believers to speak about their salvation, and in most cases you’ll find that they will do so gladly.  Such discussions generally take on one of two themes:

#1. They will tell about the person who led them to Christ or mention the time and place where the miracle of the new birth occurred.  Many times they will speak fondly of a pastor, missionary, friend, or Sunday School teacher who cared enough to take the time to present the good news of the Gospel to them.  There also is often a high regard for the place where they experienced God’s saving grace.  It would be fair to say that to these people the circumstances of their salvation is very important.

#2. Others will readily recall how they reacted to the Gospel when they heard it or how they felt immediately after accepting Christ as Savior.  Common sentiments are conviction of sin, love for Jesus, relief that their eternal destiny is now heaven instead of hell, or tears of joy.  To these people the emotions in their salvation is very important.

Ask these same people to define the word “propitiation,” and very few have any idea what it means.  They might remember hearing this word in a sermon but cannot explain its significance.  Ask these same people about justification, sealing, glorification, redemption, any number of other important Biblical words, and the reaction will be very similar.  To state the case frankly, they have little knowledge about their salvation.

At this point we would do well to ask some simple questions.  Should we rely primarily on circumstances and emotions to explain to others and ourselves what took place when we were saved?  Are these things reliable?  When we do that, are we not in some ways attempting to interpret Biblical truth by emotions/circumstances instead of interpreting emotions/circumstances by Biblical truth?

Having pondered these questions, we should draw three simple conclusions:

#1. The Bible is our only reliable source of information.  It is inspired by the Holy Spirit, inerrant on all subjects, and authoritative.  By “authoritative” we mean it is the only source we can use to determine what to do, what to be, and what to believe.  Other sources have their limitations because they are based on mere human knowledge and/or opinions.  Many Biblical references could be given here, but the following verses demonstrate the point:

We have a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts.  For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost (II Peter 1:19,21).

For ever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven (Psalm 119:89).

#2. Emotions are very changeable.  One well known preacher, now with the Lord, used to say something like this: “I’m glad my salvation doesn’t depend on my emotions because I don’t feel saved until I’ve had a cup of coffee in the morning!”  Apparently that coffee helped him “feel” saved, but nobody would argue that coffee adequately replaces the blood of Christ!

#3. How people interpret circumstances differs greatly.  Take a look at news analysis and you’ll find commentators agreeing on basic facts but reaching totally different conclusions regarding the significance of events or what the national/international reactions should be.  People have varying opinions, but God’s Word does not change!

The goal of this book is to explain in a clear way what happens Biblically the moment a believer is saved.  The outline is simple:

  1. The Pre-science of Our Salvation (God’s Planning of it)
  2. The Privileges of Our Salvation
  3. The Permanence of Our Salvation
  4. The Practicality of Our Salvation

Please understand that God offers us a thorough salvation.  The Scriptures declare that “we are complete in Him” (Colossians 2:10).  The splendor of it is that all three Persons of the trinity are involved (more on this as the book progresses), and they have collectively worked from eternity past, through present times, and will continue their unified ministry forever in the final state.

To all three Persons be the glory forever!

This book is not intended to be a thorough systematic theology on all areas of soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), but rather an introduction to the important doctrines/concepts that believers everywhere should know and love.

Great care will be given to the Greek and Hebrew originals, but all Biblical quotes, unless otherwise noted, will be from the King James Version (KJV).

This author would like to offer a few words of personal note here.  First, thank you for your interest in this book and its subject matter.  Second, please be aware that a simple knowledge of Biblical doctrines is not always very helpful.  In fact, such an approach can easily bring on an arrogance that is quite offensive.  Biblical knowledge is important, but it must be accompanied by the desire to become more Christ-like in our attitudes and actions.  The Apostle Paul made this very clear when writing to the church at Corinth:

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 1:31).

Any mistakes in spelling or grammar are the sole responsibility of this author.

At the Cross – Isaac Watts

Was it for crimes
That I have done,
He groaned upon the tree?
Amazing pity,
Grace unknown!
And love beyond degree!

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“Bible Translations: A Closer Look”

Defending the Bible’s inspiration, describing the Bible’s translation, and promoting the Bible’s study: an overview of “Bible Translations: A Closer Look.”

Christianity has faced three major theological issues since its inception.

During the first few centuries the question was this: what think ye regarding Christ?  Is He the Son of God and genuine deity, or is He something less?  Of course, the answer is that He is the Son of God, Creator and sustainer of all things, and eternally the second Person of the Trinity.

During the Middle Ages another question arose: what think ye regarding salvation?  Is it something to be conferred by the Church, or is it a matter of accepting Christ’s offer by grace through faith in what He did?  The answer, most definitely, is that salvation is a gift from God and must be accepted by faith in the finished work of Christ on the cross.

Since the Reformation a third question has been in the forefront: what think ye regarding the Bible?  Is it truly God’s Word (inspired, inerrant, and authoritative), or is it just another book which has some truth in it?  The answer is clear.  The Bible is indeed the Word of God!

Questions about the Bible’s translation have arisen in recent days.  Is the old method reliable?  Are the new translations helpful?  Why is the wording so different in various translations?  How can I study my Bible more effectively in the 21st century?

“Bible Translations: A Closer Look” is a serious attempt to answer some of these questions!

Here is a sample from the book:

Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a lamp unto my path
(Psalm 119:105, KJV).

There simply is no other book quite like the Bible.

Today we have books on virtually every imaginable subject.  Any interested person can read about anything from economic theory to diet strategies, to ancient mythology to the findings of modern medical research.

A book that is translated into two or three languages is considered quite significant.  If that same book sells a million copies the author is considered a genius.  If that book somehow manages to have any meaningful impact for fifty years or more, it is considered a classic.

These things having been said, there simply is no other book quite like the Bible!

Consider the following unique factors about the Holy Scriptures:

  1. They were written over a span of at least 1,500 years.
  2. They were written by about forty different authors.
  3. They were written in three languages (Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek).
  4. They were written under varying conditions such as war and peace, prosperity and famine, revivaland spiritual upheaval.
  5. They have been translated into over 1,300 languages.
  6. Nobody knows for certain how many copies are sold each year, but a simple internet search reveals an estimate of 100,000,000 per year.
  7. They have endured brutal attacks for thousands of years.
  8. They deal with vastly differing subjects such as history, geography, science, salvation, theology, and practical living.
  9. They are the basis for thousands of hymns, poems, and printed sermons.
  10. They have comforted, convicted, and inspired more people than any book in human history.
  11. The manuscripts of the Old and New Testaments have been meticulously and miraculously preserved.
  12. They very clearly claim to be God’s Word.
  13. They give God’s point of view from eternity past to eternity future.
  14. They are generally easy to understand but also contain elements that confound the world’s greatest scholars.
  15. They contain no contradiction even though they were written by so many authors, at so many different times, and on so many different subjects.
  16. All this is contained in one book which we can easily hold in our hands.

The author would like to express some personal sentiments here.  First, thank you for your interest in this book and its content.  Second, be sure that this author wholeheartedly believes and vigorously defends the inspiration, inerrancy, and authority of the Bible and is attempting to make it better known to all readers.

King Solomon wrote these words nearly 3,000 years ago:

And further, by these my son, be admonished: of the making of books there is no end: and much study is a weariness of the flesh  (Ecclesiastes 12:12, KJV).

Books surely have their place, but just as surely, the BOOK must have first place!

It is the purpose of this book to honor God and His Word by offering discussions divided into the following sections:

  1. What we should believe about the Bible.
  2. What we should know about past Bible translations.
  3. The difficulties a Bible translator faces.
  4. Why there are so many differences in translations.
  5. Some of the methods used in modern Bible translation.
  6. Some things to be aware of in modern Bible translations.
  7. The strengths and weaknesses of the best-known Bible translations.
  8. How a believer can study the Bible more effectively.

Biblical quotations and allusions will be made from various translations, old and modern.  Considerable effort will also be made to carefully consult the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic wording.  In addition, the applicable linguistic principles will be explained in a clear way.

#######

“Spiritual Gifts Verse by Verse: A Commentary on I Corinthians 12-14.”

Among the many profundities uttered by Dr. Edward Panosian, the long-time chairman of the history department at Bob Jones University, was a statement that went something like this:

We live in an “ismatic” age.

Dr. Panosian went on to explain what he meant by that statement.  It is apparent that many people in the past 60 years or so are finding things which become very powerful influences in their thinking and practical living.  These “things” may include political positions, theological perspectives, or philosophical systems, to name a few areas of their influence.

A partial list will illustrate how influential “ismatic” thinking is:

Altruism                                               Authoritarianism                             Capitalism

Classicism                                            Communism                                      Creationism

Cynicism                                              Determinism                                      Empiricism

Epicureanism                                     Expressionism                                   Existentialism

Formalism                                           Holism                                                  Humanism

Idealism                                               Impressionism                                  Legalism

Liberalism                                            Mannerisms                                       Marxism

Materialism                                        Modernism                                          Monism

Moral relativism                               Multiculturalism                              Mysticism

Naturalism                                          Optimism                                            Pessimism

Pragmatism                                        Rationalism                                         Realism

Romanticism                                      Scholasticism                                     Socialism

Subjectivism                                      Surrealism                                           Symbolism

Universalism                                      Utopianism

The “ismatic spirit” has entered into religion.  Here is a partial list to demonstrate the point:

Agnosticism                                        Arminianism                                       Atheism

Buddhism                                            Calvinism                                             Catholicism

Evangelicalism                                   Fundamentalism                              Islamism

Judaism                                                 Pantheism                                          Pelagianism

Perfectionism                                     Polytheism                                         Spiritualism

Theism                                                    Zen Buddhism

This ismatic thinking/attitude is not new.  Here are two simple examples:

Deism                                                      Gnosticism

Virtually nobody would dare to doubt that these “isms” have enormous impact in today’s world.  Millions of people and billions of dollars (perhaps trillions!) are wrapped up in these ideologies.  The majority of people living on earth have been captivated by one or more of these “isms” in one way or another.

Several mentions should be made about the modern Charismatic/Pentecostal movement.

1. Its worldwide influence is undeniable.

Today, when pastors, evangelists, and missionaries gather together, no matter what denominational background the group may have, one of the most common discussions centers around the various reactions people have toward the Charismatic movement.

The Pentecostal movement is on the growing edge of the Christian mission in the world today.  And while some within the Church might find that edge untidy and a few might even question if the movement propelling it may be properly called Christian at all, none can deny that the movement is growing.  It is to be recognized that, whether approved by us or not, the Pentecostal movement is in the world with increasing numbers and significance.  Pentecostalism wishes to be taken seriously as a Christian movement.  Its assessment is due.[1]

In the past decade or so, the movement’s impact has grown even more.

Even a casual observer of the movement’s influence can easily discern that most denominations have at least a vestige of Pentecostal/Charismatic thinking in them.  Further, the missionary efforts are quite impressive, the offerings of radio and television programs are numerous, and the number of “independent” churches with Pentecostal perspectives is skyrocketing.  These trends are, of course, in addition to such recently established denominations as the Assemblies of God, Four Square Gospel Churches, and Church of God in Christ churches, to name a few.

2. Its doctrinal stance concerning the Holy Spirit generally focuses on two New Testament books.

The Pentecostal use of the New Testament for the doctrine of the Holy Spirit draws most extensively from the book of Acts and I Corinthians chapters twelve to fourteen….[2]

3. Its overall theology is orthodox and conservative.  The main difference between them and other Christian groups is a strong emphasis on their understanding of experiences in the Christian life and how the Holy Spirit ministers to believers.

Here is a brief doctrinal statement from an early Pentecostal/Charismatic document:

(1) “We believe the Bible to be the inspired, the only infallible, authoritative Word of God; (2) that there is on God, eternally existent in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; (3) in the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ, in His virgin birth, in His sinless life, in His miracles, in His vicarious and atoning sacrifice through His shed blood, in His bodily resurrection, and in His personal return in power and glory; (4) that for the salvation of the lost and sinful man regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential; (5) that the full Gospel includes holiness of heart and life, healing for the body, and the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues as the Spirit gives utterance; (6) in the present ministry of the Holy Spirit, by whose indwelling the Christian is enabled to live a godly life; (7) in the resurrection of both the saved and the lost; they that are saved unto the resurrection of life and they that are lost unto the resurrection of damnation; (8) in the spiritual unity of believers in our lord Jesus Christ.[3]

Theologically, the adherents of the Pentecostal movement unite around an emphasis upon the experience of the Holy Spirit in the life of the individual believer and in the fellowship of the church.  The Pentecostal does not normally care to distinguish himself from evangelical believers in the fundamentals of the Christian faith—he is, by choice, “fundamental” in doctrine.  But the Pentecostal finds his raison d-etre in what for him is crucial: his faith in the supernatural, extraordinary, and visible work of the Holy Spirit in the post-conversion experience of the believer today as, he would insist, the days of the apostles.[4]

4. It feels it has a definite and urgent mission to complete.

Pentecostals agree and unify around their belief that their recent successes in missions, church planting, and education are due to their strong adherence to their distinctives, particularly the ideas of emphasis on experience, the role of the Holy Spirit in the lives of a believer, and the concept that Pentecost is not only possible, but actually necessary, for any significant progress in today’s church.  In fact, they consider any church which does not hold to their distinctives to be “dead” and in need of a revival as described in the book of Acts.

Although many in the movement sometimes seem aware that it has significant shortcomings, few of them doubt that God has blessed them in an extraordinary way and that it has an important mission to fulfill in the modern church.

After fifty years our Lord’s classic text “By their fruits ye shall know them” can be safely applied to the Pentecostal Movement.  It makes no claim to perfection…  But by and large, the Movement’s great and solid achievements in missionary work; in its fervent contribution to the cause of true Revival; and most of all its utter loyalty to the Lord Jesus Christ in His divinity and humanity, and the work of His atonement for our sins by His precious blood should still the tongues and pens of those who still publish evil of this great work of the Holy Spirit.[5]

And so we come to the purpose of this book.

Several factors should be considered:

Because we live in an “ismatic” age, surely one of the most influential isms with Christianity needs to be examined from time to time.  This author makes no pretense of being an authority on the history or recent trends of the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement.  Such a book would require many years of devoted research into areas where others have far more expertise and background.  It is clear, however, that all in Christianity can rally around the idea that the Bible is God’s Word: authoritative in all matters, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and inerrant in the original autographs.

That being the case, a thoroughly Biblical look is not only helpful, but is actually quite important, to determine the trustworthiness of any group calling itself “Christian.”

“Ismatic” adherents have a way of moving to one end or the other on the spectrum of beliefs/practices. Take a look at the list of isms listed above.  Since the Bible is our only reliable Word from God on this and all other subjects, and because the Pentecostal/Charismatic movement is susceptible to trends that are often rejected by others, it is quite obvious, then, that a Biblical analysis is the best way to evaluate it.

It would be a great thing is all believers would “just get along,” but it seems that since the inception of the modern Pentecostal movement barriers have been raised, causing significant divisions.  That is why missionaries, pastors, and other leaders have all the discussions they have.  The author recognizes that he is likely to be branded as a “hero” or a “heretic” by virtually everyone who reads this book.

It is apparent that many are afraid to tackle the tough issues.  It is just as obvious that many seek (and eventually find) someone who agrees with their opinion but generally offers little Biblical support for their views.

To state the case frankly, there are many in the body of Christ who will discuss their views with others who are for the most part of like mind but are afraid to offend them by offering disagreement on certain points.

Of course, this problem has existed since the beginning of the Church.

Today, however, we live in a “politically correct” environment in which many do not want to stress man’s sinfulness before a holy God, the Bible’s absolute authority to teach and guide us in all matters of faith and practice, or the fact that Jesus offers the only solution to man’s need of salvation.  These points were not often debated a century ago, because pastors, evangelists, Christian college professors, and leaders in all areas of the Church were united in defending such Biblical truths.

Simply put, we have a number of leaders who are rather cowardly in their presentation of the Gospel.

The same applies to the issue before us.  While it is not the author’s intent to be divisive or obstinate, the truth of God’s Word must be clearly presented to all who will read or listen to it.   Of course, as will be pointed out in the commentary, love is crucial in all that we do (I Corinthians 13)!

And so the challenge is to present the truth in love.

Since I Corinthians 12-14 is so widely employed in the modern Pentecostal/Charismatic movement, it is apparent that a verse-by-verse commentary is much needed.

The author would like to take this opportunity to thank all the readers for their interest in this subject.  It is his prayer that this book will be both instructive and helpful to all who will read it.  Surely these are great needs in the Church today!

[1]Bruner, p. 19.  It is interesting to note that these words were written in 1970.  Obviously true then, they are more true today.

[2]Ibid., p. 15. Of course, preaching does come from other portions of Scripture in Pentecostal churches, but their actual doctrine does center largely on the two New testament sources.

[3]”The Constitution of the Pentecostal Fellowship of North America,” in E.E. Mayer, The Religious Bodies of America (2nd ed.: St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1956), p. 319.

[4]Bruner, p. 20.

[5]Pentecost, No, 42 (December, 1957), p. 17.

“A Portrait of Jesus”

Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider

the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus

(Hebrews 3:1).

In all of recorded history there has never been anyone who has had nearly as much impact as Jesus.

Consider the significance of religious, political, and military leaders of past generations. Can anyone say about them that they are still held in high esteem thousands of years later?

Great generals win battles for a country or a kingdom, but those countries and kingdoms are later replaced by something else. The same can be said for the impact of inventors, medical researchers, explorers, philanthropists, and political figures.

They all have their place, but they simply cannot compare to Jesus!

Below is a list that explains something of His amazing influence:

1. Our calendar is based on the year of His birth.

2. In America, every coin and dollar bill says “In God we trust.”

3. Jesus is the subject of thousands of hymns and Gospel songs.

4. He is also the focal point of innumerable poems, speeches, sermons, and books.

5. He is worshipped by millions of believers worldwide.

6. He is the promised Messiah of the Old Testament.

7. He is the Savior revealed in the New Testament, including everything from His virgin birth to His resurrection.

8. He is the King of Kings Who will reign forever.

9. Every prayer a Christian utters or thinks is in His name.

10. Even though the salvation He offers is rejected by many, His Person and work are respected by billions.

11. A very large percentage of charitable work is done in His name.

12. His teachings inspire children, comfort adults, motivate missionaries and pastors, and convict sinners.

13. He is rightly regarded as the virgin born Son of God by billions.

It will be the purpose of this book to honor Jesus. Of course, there is so much to consider about Him that much will go unsaid. No doubt believers will have all eternity to learn about His love, power, and holiness than can be discovered in this life!

It is clear, however, that we do well to take heed to the admonition of Hebrews 3:1 (quoted above) and learn of Him during our earthly existence!

That being said, this book will be divided into five sections:

I.          Jesus before time existed

II.         Jesus in Old Testament times

III.        Jesus on this earth

IV.        Jesus in the present

V.         Jesus in the last days and final state

Every chapter will conclude with a hymn about Jesus.

Great care will be taken to demonstrate every point Biblically and to research words and

grammatical  points  from  the  Hebrew  and Greek of both testaments. Occasionally, the author

will  speculate as  to  the meaning of words, phrases, and concepts, but it is his sincere desire to

be  true  to  the  teaching  of  Scripture  in ever matter. After all, our only truly reliable source of

information about Him in His Word, the Bible!

It  is  the  author’s  prayer  that  everyone  reading this book will be transformed to be in

awe of His power and glory, to reverence His holiness, to be amazed by His grace and love, and to serve Him until He returns for His own!

To Him be the glory forever!

 

More about Jesus would I know,                                More About Jesus

More of His grace to others show;                                 Eliza E. Hewitt

More of His saving fullness see,

More of His love Who died for me!

 

More about Jesus let me learn,

More of His holy will discern;

Spirit of God, my Teacher be,

Showing the things of Christ to me.

 

More about Jesus on His throne,

Riches in glory all His own:

More of His kingdom’s sure increase,

More of His coming, Prince of Peace!

 

More, more about Jesus!

More, more about Jesus!

More of His saving fullness see,

More of His love Who died for me!

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